The Development and Practice of Freud’s Psychoanalysis Abstract Freud’s has a view of human nature that is driven by instinct. It is deterministic. The two dominant forces are the life and death forces that Freud calls Eros and Thanatos. The three levels of awareness for Freud are what he called the conscious, preconscious, and the unconscious. The most important of the three is the role of the unconscious. Problem formation according to Freud occurs when there are repressed memories, drives, or desires in the unconscious.
There is a constant battle between the Id and the Superego and the Ego serves to mediate between the demands of both.
This mediation of the two can serve to threaten the ego and cause anxiety, thus forcing the ego to utilize other defense mechanisms. The mother of all defense mechanisms is repression. Other problem formation occurs during a disturbance or trauma during the psychosexual stages of development which causes the person to become fixated at the stage.
Consequences are to be experienced in later adulthood. Finally, change occurs when memories, drives, and desires are brought into consciousness. This can be achieved according to Freud through the techniques of free association, dream analysis, and transference.
Keywords: instinct, eros, thanatos, conscious, unconscious, preconscious, id, ego, superego, repression, psychosexual development, stages, techniques HUMAN NATURE Freud essentially embraced a deterministic view of human nature. Human behavior is determined by uncontrollable irrational forces that are continuously operating in the individual. The human person is unconsciously motivated and key biological and instinctual drives manifest within the person over what Freud called the psychosexual phases of development in the first 6 years of life (Corey, 2009).
Freud’s view of human nature takes on some basic assumptions that are key to understanding his position. The foundation of his psychoanalytical theory rests on the notion of the unconscious. Freud proposed that that the human mind consists of three main parts. These parts are the unconscious, the conscious, and the preconscious. The most important of these is the unconscious for it is here where the thoughts, feelings, experiences, and memories that will not easily move into the conscious are stored. Moreover, certain drives and instincts that allow people to behave the way they do are also stored in the conscious(Krapp, 2005, p. 55). That which a person is aware of is stored in the conscious. The preconscious then is the part of the mind that can be accessed if needed, but is not part of the active conscious(Krapp, 2005, p. 155). Moving on with human nature and Freud it is also important to understand the notion of instinct as the driving force in the human personality. To be more specific, Freud describes this instinct as a stimulus of the mind that originates in the body that puts forth a pressure(Sugarman, 2010, p. 13). This pressure needs to be released or satisfied. Instincts provide a means of survival for the human person.
Furthermore, instincts allowed the person to develop, grow, and be creative. According to Mullahy (1955), Freud takes the idea of stimuli from physiology and expounds on it. Human instinct acts like an internal stimulus that is constant and inescapable. According to Freud then instincts were a sum of energy forcing its way in the human person. (p. 3) The 3 characteristics of human instinct thus is that it has a source of excitation from the body, an aim to remove that excitation, and an object by which the achievement of satisfaction is met(Mullahy, 1955, p. ). Out of his theory of instinct comes Freud’s larger idea of the life (eros) and death (thanatos) instinct. As Noland (1999) explains, Freud believed that all humans have a death instinct. He supported this notion by observing how all organic matter eventually returns to its inorganic state, in other words to die. However, there is a force that opposes the death instinct and that is constantly trying to preserve life, the life instinct (eros). This force has been present since the beginning of life and is what Freud called libido. (p. 92) PROBLEM FORMATION
In order to understand the conflicts of an individuals mind Freud structured the human mind into three systems, the id, ego, and superego. Only one system can be in control at any given time. The id, which never matures, operates on the the demands of the pleasure principle and is demanding. The drive of the id is to satisfy its desires and release tension. The ego is based out of a reality principle. This system of the personality seeks to govern and regulate the realities of life and is operative on the conscious level. The moral code of the mind is the superego.
It focuses on the ideal rather than what is real. The superego strives always for perfection and is operative on the unconscious and the conscious levels(Krapp, 2005, p. 156). It can be said that the ego is the great balancer between the id and the superego. Where the id is constantly seeking pleasure and release of tension the superego is striving for perfection according to some moral code. The ego is left to mediate between the two. This mediation is a source of conflict which leads to anxiety that threatens the survival of the ego.
In the process of dealing with the urges of the id and perfectionist tendencies of the superego the ego can become overwhelmed and has to defend itself. Hence Freud’s defense mechanisms are born(Krapp, 2005, p. 157) Repression is the foundation and prototypic of all defense mechanisms(Gilman, 1982, p. 14). According to Freud the reason why the ego represses is to avoid pain and to protect itself. These unresolved feelings that are buried in the unconscious may seek to cause disturbances later on in life and may seek expression in unhealthy and distorted ways.
This is key to understanding where problems begin to form for Freud. Along with his idea of repression comes psychosexual development and further potential for problem formation. The basic premise is that childhood sexual experiences are the determining factors for adult personality and psychopathology(Krapp, 2005, p. 159). Freud lays out 5 stages of psychosexual development: the oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage, latency stage, and genital stage. At each one of these stages there are tasks to complete. One either fails or succeeds at such tasks.
According to the theory then when trauma or failure occur at any of the tasks during the stages of the psychosexual development then the person becomes fixated. Freud thought of fixation as small scars at certain points of failure or neuroses in the process of psychosexual development(Gilman, 1982, p. 22). These failures form developmental problems that have consequences later on in adulthood in personality structure, in discrete symptoms, or in perversions(Gilman, 1982, p. 22). These childhood traumas remain unresolved conflicts resting in the unconscious. The theory of character is born out of this phenomenon.
When a person becomes fixated at any stage of psychosexual development the person will manifest characteristics throughout life that are related to the fixated stage(Mullahy, 1955, p. 58). There is a corresponding character for each of the 5 stages of development. CHANGE Now that the formation of problems has been established it is appropriate to briefly discuss how change or problem resolution occurs. Repression was the cornerstone of all these defensive processes and was also the root of Freud’s other defense mechanisms. Therefore change occurs when repression in the individual was undone.
In other words it was when the unacceptable repressed memories and experiences were brought to awareness that change could happen and the problem solved(Unwerth, 2005, p. 1953). Finally, as Mullahy (1955) describes Freud saying, “in analyses by means of certain techniques… , the resistances will, according to the theory, gradually be conquered or resolved and ‘forgotten’ situations and connections remembered. (p. 30). TECHNIQUES Now that problem formation according to Freud has been explained a brief description of the techniques used by Freud will conclude this essay.
There are 3 classic techniques that serve to help resolve conflict or neurosis by bringing repressed memories into awareness. The first technique is free association. The client attends to an image in their mind and then says without any censoring whatever comes to mind. A chain reaction of free association then begins which has an “unconscious directing thrust that will lead to relevant but disturbing recollection”(Gilman, 1982, p. 59). A second technique utilized was dream analyses. Freud believed that dreams reflect an ongoing unconscious activity.
Dreams were full of symbols to be interpreted which contained hidden meaning. A final technique used by Freud was his use of transference. The transference process was between the client and Freud. Freud believed that often times his clients would play out old conflicts and interactions from their pasts with him. Thus, he used this dynamic as a technique in psychoanalyses. The goal was to bring the sources of transference to consciousness along with any resistances that would get in the way of this process(Gilman, 1982, p. 78). References Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. 8th ed. ). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole. Freud, Sigmund Schlomo. (2005). In K. Krapp (Ed. ), Psychologists and their theories for students (Vol. 1, pp. 145-173). Detroit: Gale. Retrieved from http://go. galegroup. com. ezproxy. barry. edu/ps/aboutEbook. do? pubDate=120050000&actionString=DO_DISPLAY_ABOUT_PAGE&inPS=true&prodId=GVRL&userGroupName=miam50083&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm&docId=GALE%7C5BLE Gilman, S. S. , (Ed). (1982). Introducing psychoanalytical theory, New York, NY: Brunner/Mazel. Mullahy, P. (1955). Oedipus myth and complex. New York, NY: Grove Press. Noland, R. W. (1999).
Sigmund Freud revisited. New York, NY: Twayne. Sugarman, S. (2010). Freud on the psychology of ordinary mental life. Rowman & Littlefield. Available from http://web. ebscohost. com. ezproxy. barry. edu/ehost/LandingPage/landing? [email protected]&vid=0&tid=2003EB&new=True Von Unwerth, M. F. (2005). Psychoanalysis. In M. C. Horowitz (Ed. ), New Dictionary of the History of Ideas (Vol. 5, pp. 1951-1958). Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons. Retrieved from http://go. galegroup. com/ps/i. do? id=GALE% 7CCX3424300644&v=2. 1&u=miam50083&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w
Cite this Essay Sigmund Freud
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